Oil debts: Reps threaten to arrest CEOs of defaulting companies

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From Ndubuisi Orji and Kemi Yesufu, Abuja

House of Representatives Ad-hoc Committee investigating alleged huge debts and criminal acts of sabotage by oil marketers has threatened to issue arrest warrant against chief executives of oil companies that refused to honour its summon.

Chairman of the committee, Abdullahi Gaya, issued the threat in Abuja while giving an update on the outcome of the activities of the ad-hoc committee.

The committee chairman expressed dismay over the attitude of some of the affected major oil marketers, including Total, Mobil, NIPCO, Forte Oil, Oando and MRS, to ongoing investigation on the issue.

He said the committee resolved to  issue warrant of arrest against the managing directors and chief executive officers (CEOs) of the affected companies, so that they would be compelled to attend the hearing to defend themselves.

The ad-hoc committee is probing over N500 billion debt allegedly owed the Pipelines Products Marketing Company (PPMC) by major oil companies operating in the country.

Gaya said the essence of the committee’s investigation was to ascertain the veracity or otherwise of the claims of the PPMC,  as well as that of oil marketers,  who are the key actors on the issues, to ensure that the Nigerian government was not short-changed in anyway.

He said so far some of the debts have been recovered, however, he refused to disclose the sum recovered.

The committee chairman expressed optimism that at least 80 per cent of the money would be recovered at the end of the investigation.

According to him, “before we started this investigation, what we did was to sit down to digest and see the best way out and fortunately for us, so far we have recovered a lot of money, huge amount of money.

“We called PPMC to give us information on the outstanding of oil marketers and they came and told us. We then sent letters to 17 oil marketers to send in documents and tell us their own part, the outstanding.

“We also requested that they come and defend it but instead of doing that, they are sending representatives. Why are they sending persons that are not part of their organisations?”

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